Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) as a potential mechanism of the effects of acute exercise on cognitive performance

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jennifer L. Etnier, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: The literature shows that improvements in cognitive performance may be observed following anacute bout of exercise. However, evidence in support of the biological mechanisms of this effectis still limited. Findings from both rodent and human studies suggest brain-derived neurotrophicfactor (BDNF) as a potential mechanism of the effect of acute exercise on memory. Themolecular properties of BDNF allow this protein to be assessed in the periphery (pBDNF) (i.e.,blood serum, blood plasma), making measurements of acute exercise-induced changes in BDNFconcentration relatively accessible. Studies exploring the acute exercise–pBDNF–cognitiveperformance relationship have had mixed findings, but this may be more reflective ofmethodological differences between studies than it is a statement about the role of BDNF. Forexample, significant associations have been observed between acute exercise-induced changes inpBDNF concentration and cognitive performance in studies assessing memory, and nonsignificantassociations have been found in studies assessing non-memory cognitive domains.Three suggestions are made for future research aimed at understanding the role of BDNF as abiological mechanism of this relationship: 1) Assessments of cognitive performance may benefitfrom a focus on various types of memory (e.g., relational, spatial, long-term); 2) More finegrainedmeasurements of pBDNF will allow for the assessment of concentrations of specificisoforms of the BDNF protein (i.e., immature, mature); 3) Statistical techniques designed to testthe mediating role of pBDNF in the acute exercise-cognitive performance relationship should beutilized in order to make causal inferences.

Additional Information

Journal of Sport and Health Science
Language: English
Date: 2015
Isoforms, Mediators, Memory, Mental health, Physical activity

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